Samurai Mask and Helmet
On the battlefield they inspired terror, harvesting heads and glory with their swords. Their leaders wore fierce masks and horned helmets. All lived by a code that valued death over defeat. They were the samurai, the elite warrior class who ruled Japan for nearly 700 years from 1185 to 1867, leaving an indelible mark on a land still making peace with its violent heroes.
Pictured here are a samurai mask and helmet on display at the Osaka Castle Museum.
These photos and captions were published in the December 2003 National Geographic article "Japan's Way of the Warrior."